Keep­ing it reel with the hum­ble cas­sette

The Leader (Nelson) - - FRONT PAGE - STU HUNT

Vinyl is cool again. Or is that vinyl is fi­nally cool? I’m not sure.

But sadly I haven’t heard the same con­ver­sa­tions be­ing had about the hum­ble cas­sette tape.

Back in the day, and don’t we all love con­ver­sa­tions that start with those four words, we had a choice be­tween cas­settes and LPs.

But, un­til CDs crashed the party, tapes were the go to. Highly por­ta­ble, durable and best of all record­able. I was about 15 when CDs first emerged but I held the course with my trusty walk­man un­til it gave up the ghost well into my 20s.

I’m still a lit­tle bit sad about the demise of the cas­sette tape. It lives on still in some cars but I’ve not heard of any­one hav­ing cas­sette swap meets.

To my mind a playlist on Spo­tify will never have the same emo­tional in­vest­ment and test your com­mit­ment like a mix­tape.

Playlists evolve and you could as­sem­ble a pretty sturdy one in 10 min­utes give or take but mix­tapes took days to lov­ingly as­sem­ble.

Give some­one a mix­tape with your own orig­i­nal art­work on the cover and you were giv­ing away a 60 or a 90-minute win­dow into your soul.

There were even cass­in­gles al­though ad­mit­tedly I was never very big on them. For a time I tended to run out and buy the 45 or later on pa­tiently sit through the top 10 at 10 on the ra­dio and hit record.

Even if the top 10 at 10 still ex­ists I can’t re­ally com­mit to it any­more since I’m well and truly un­con­scious by then.

Even if I wasn’t, the ra­dio has been ban­ished from the bed­room largely to dis­cour­age my habit of fall­ing asleep to the re­as­sur­ing tones of talk­back.

But I still have a shoe­box full of cas­settes and a beer crate full of LPs. The cas­settes are all warped and the LPS are a bit like me, scratchy.

Oh and I don’t have a cas­sette deck or a turntable any­more. So they’re roughly as much use to me as a cat­flap in an ele­phant house.

I tell my­self that one day I’ll reen­ter the world of the LP and re­ally ex­plore the rich­ness of the sound on de­cent equip­ment.

And once again ex­pe­ri­ence all of the tac­tile joy of han­dling records with­out smear­ing my fin­ger­prints all over them and wip­ing them down so the big wedge of dust doesn’t col­lect on the sty­lus like a logjam.

And, af­ter care­fully low­er­ing the arm on to the groove of Roger Whi­taker Brings his Best, marvel at his rusty bari­tone. And light a pipe. In front of the fire. With a glass of stout. Stroking my beard.

The re­al­ity is now when the mood takes I blue­tooth what­ever I feel like lis­ten­ing to from my cell­phone but go into a panic over the over­whelm­ing choice.

Then I put up a brief fight when the the kids sail into view and start fir­ing off re­quests un­til I re­treat into any room where I can’t hear Katy/Tay­lor/Brit­ney/ Se­lena.

So all that’s left is those brief moments when I’m in the car alone and have 15 min­utes to play it loud and sing my lungs out. Again choice is not free­dom so I fall back on some firm crowd­pleasers here, Chisel/ Bruce/Freddy/Neil any­thing from the eight­ies that I know all the words to.

I did try and de­clare the car a Katy/Tay­lor/Brit­ney/Se­lena-free zone and even tried to im­part a bit of a mu­si­cal ed­u­ca­tion on my off­spring, noth­ing too pro­found, just some­thing like this is a song by a band called For­eigner and its called Ur­gent and its got a kick­ass sax solo in it, re­peat af­ter me sax solo.

But they’re a tough crowd and I’m barely half­way in be­fore their eyes glaze over and I have to swap it out for Katy/Tay­lor/Brit­ney/ Se­lena.

And if it has to be a spe­cific track at least there’s no hit and miss eject flip it over rewind, fast for­ward.

If cas­settes gave us noth­ing else they taught us pa­tience.

Ninety min­utes of lo-fi good­ness.

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